by Howard Green
Those of us who love His appearing are discerning the times, staying wide awake, and know that our time here is short. In the time we have left to live for Him, whether days or decades, it is so important to understand how close Jesus is to us……even when we don’t see Him. We are the believers who live between His ascension and the rapture. In the purely physical sense……we can’t see Him, we can’t touch Him, and we can’t hear His voice calling to us from the shores of the Galilee like the disciples did. We can’t hold His nail pierced hand as Thomas did. For now, we have to walk by faith and not by sight. We know there is a blessing for all of us who haven’t seen Him…..yet believe. Lately I find myself longing for Him. I want to see Jesus face to face, bow before Him, and thank Him for loving me in person. It is so important to realize He is with us as we live out our faith in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to it. Let’s look together at the reality of Jesus’ presence and the comfort, security, and authenticity it brings to our walk.
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Believers who study Bible prophecy are keenly aware of the realities in our world today. We observe western society living in decadence and moral decay much like the Roman Empire. We see nations poised on the brink of all out war. We are living in a time when the world is becoming increasingly hostile to the gospel of Christ, His message, and His followers. I know there is a tendency to see everything as business as usual and just another day in our lives. That assessment of the times we live in couldn’t be further from reality.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
I’ve heard many a wise pastor convey the idea that: If we are not feeling the heat from the world for our faith…..then we are probably blending in to well or not flying the flag high enough. In other words…..when our lives are marked by bold authentic Christianity: we will face opposition and if you are aren’t facing it at the moment, it will come soon enough. This is the life of the man or woman who is unashamed of the gospel of Christ….. a life that’s lived in diametric opposition to the world’s standards, morals, and values. When we take a stand for Jesus in our high school, work place, or before our unbelieving family members……there will be consequences. The trials come to true believers in Jesus because we walk according to His will, not our own, or the way the pop-culture of our day dictates.
This is a far cry from what is becoming a popular message in many evangelical circles today. The popular message of our day is: Christians are prosperous, successful, victorious people who are respected, favored, and admired by our colleagues, neighbors, and the world. Dominion theology portrays this world getting brighter and Christians ushering in the kingdom.
The Bible tells us of a different scene as history comes to a close. This world will become increasingly hostile to the God of the universe and to His followers. The bottom line is this, when we live for the Lord….we can expect opposition.
With that reality in mind, let’s look at the presence of Jesus in our life as we navigate through these perilous times.
When we walk with Jesus we can expect satan to oppose us. He is the enemy, the accuser, and deceiver. He is a roaring lion but his power is limited. God’s people are under His protective and loving care. Here are two realities about our position with the Lord in light of satan’s attacks:
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Ephesians 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
When we walk with Jesus we can expect this world to oppose us. This should come as no surprise and what a comfort it is to know that this opposition is just another mark of a life identified in Him.
Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
When we walk with Jesus…there are times we will feel the weight of this life and it’s cares draining us. Friend…..maybe you are up late at night worrying about a wayward prodigal son or daughter. Perhaps they were raised in a godly home, but want no part of Jesus now. You might be a husband or wife who is heartbroken because your spouse wants out of the marriage and they don’t want to hear about God anymore. You might be going through a health crisis and you feel like the Lord is far off in this season of life.
Things may turn around and the circumstance may change. Sometimes the problem remains and we won’t understand why until we are with the Lord in heaven. I know this for a fact……the Lord is so near to a believer who is going through hardship, heartache, and pain. Here is some perspective from His word:
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
When we walk with Jesus in these last days, we can expect trials and difficulty. When we are unashamed of Him it will be a very bold statement to the world. Here are some realities from the word of God about standing with Him until the end:
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
2 Timothy 1:8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do.
There is another sweet reality about walking with Jesus in these dark days……not only is there fruit produced by suffering, trials, and opposition. There is the wonderful fruit of the people who come to faith because they see the reality of Jesus in our life. They may have stood back for a long time and wondered why you don’t fly off the handle when things go south. They may have seen your joy in the midst of cancer, heartache, or being treated unfairly. The joy they saw wasn’t a fake or conjured up show.
The real joy of the Lord supersedes temporary happiness and good times. It is the kind of joy that even in the middle of trials…..can rest on the fact that all is well with my soul. I know people who have had their lives turned upside down yet remain faithful to the Lord and sometimes this trial only serves to bolster their faith.
What is more beautiful than a Christian who is marked by the abiding, sweet, real presence of God even when life comes unraveled? This is the kind of life that will be light in a dark world. It may just be speaking volumes about what the Lord has done in your life in front of people who really need hope.
Remember….as this world grows colder, darker, and lawless, we have the presence of the living God inside of us. He promised to be with us always……even to the end of the age.
I want to close with the words to a great classic hymn. It summarizes what this week’s article is all about and the reality of belonging to the Lord. If you know someone who needs encouragement, feel free to pass this article along.
All for Him, Howard
It Is Well With My Soul: By Horatio Spafford
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
1. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
2. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
3. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
4. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
5. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.